Gillette has come under fire after releasing a commercial that draws on the #MeToo movement to challenge “toxic masculinity.”
In the ad, the razor brand — a subsidiary of global giant Proctor & Gamble — calls out “bullying,” “sexual harassment” and “toxic masculinity,” and questions: “Is this the best a man can get?” The campaign goes on to encourage men to hold one another accountable for their behavior.
Gillette said on its website it was time brands acknowledged the role they played in influencing culture.
“As a company that encourages men to be their best, we have a responsibility to make sure we are promoting positive, attainable, inclusive and healthy versions of what it means to be a man,” the company said.
However, the ad’s message was met with backlash from some, with claims it was too political and painted all men as bullies or sexual harassers. The YouTube video, which has been viewed more than 2.8 million times, has almost 250,000 dislikes, while others took to social media to respond to the campaign.
Television personality and journalist Piers Morgan said on Twitter: “If Gillette made a commercial predicated on women being bad & this is how they can all be better… the same radical feminists loving this ad would go nuts.”
Insulting most of your own customers by insinuating they're all would-be sexual abusers & creeps has to be one of the most original marketing campaigns in decades. https://t.co/IIXzqEcn3u
— Paul Joseph Watson (@PrisonPlanet) January 14, 2019
— Regular Guy (@why_so_hateful) January 15, 2019
A spokesperson for Gillette told CNBC via email on Tuesday that the company had a responsibility to champion positive male behaviors.
“We expected debate — discussion is necessary. For every negative reaction we’ve seen many positive reactions, people calling the effort courageous, timely, smart, and much-needed,” they said. “At the end of the day, sparking conversation is what matters. This gets people to pay attention to the topic and encourages them to consider taking action to make a difference.”
Gillette said it would donate $1 million per year for the next three years to non-profits that carried out programs in the U.S. designed to help men become role models for the next generation by inspiring respect and accountability.